Labour or braxton hicks

From about 8 weeks of pregnancy the uterus begins to generate small waves of contractions. These are known as Braxton-Hicks contractions (after the person who named them).

Braxton-Hicks contractions are usually painless, however some women find them quite painful, particularly in the last half of their pregnancy. The uterus is a large group of muscles and Braxton-Hicks contractions are a way of toning these muscles as well as stimulating your unborn baby. Every time your baby feels the uterus tightening around them, it helps to stimulate their circulation, similar to a massage.

Women often describe Braxton-Hicks contractions as a tightness or hardness or a slight cramping of their belly. Some liken it to a tight band pulling on their uterus which usually stops if they change what they are doing. For example, if you have been walking and you feel a Braxton-Hicks contraction, sometimes when you stop so does the contraction.

Many women, especially first time mothers, are not aware of their Braxton-Hicks contractions, unless their caregiver points one out to them during an examination of their pregnant belly. Other women, especially second and third time mothers, notice them from about half way through their pregnancy and can find them uncomfortable or perhaps painful, even labour-like.

Braxton-Hicks contractions are NOT a sign of prelabour or labour, but can be confused with prelabour at times. Unlike prelabour the contractions are generally sporadic or irregular and rarely less than 5-10 minutes apart. Braxton-Hicks contractions do not thin or open (dilate) your cervix.

Note: If you are less than 37 weeks pregnant and you are getting painful or cramping, contraction sensations every 15 minutes or less, it is advisable to contact your caregiver. This is to rule out premature labour and confirm that they are indeed Braxton-Hicks contractions.

7 Comments

  1. dawnblyth 02/06/2019 at 9:37 pm

    Braxton hicks are a nuisance at time! Especially near the end of the pregnancy when all you want is baby to be born. I had to have my waters broken both times so knew the labour was real then!

  2. candyjanenz 02/06/2019 at 3:56 pm

    I thought that I was having Braxton Hicks but actually I was in labour 7 weeks early. It is hard to know what it is, especially for your first pregnancy.

  3. kymmage 02/06/2019 at 11:54 am

    I had some braxton hicks, and when you are close to popping you really do feel like it could be it. With my first baby I also mistook her having hiccups as contractions of some kind haha!!

  4. Micht 01/06/2019 at 5:44 pm

    So important to note that braxton hicks are not actual contractions or need for major concern… i myself kept freaking out when i felt those closer to the due date… and it kind of kept me on edge…being informed makes that so much moe easier to handle.

  5. Alezandra 29/05/2019 at 10:30 pm

    I didn’t have Braxton Hicks so I wouldn’t really know the difference. Some say it’s distinguishable but I guess I can only tell if I have had them. 😛

  6. Shorrty4life1 28/05/2019 at 7:42 pm

    Very interesting read. I remember Braxton hicks with my daughter. Was so funny me and my sister used to walk at nights and we were both pregnant due around the same time and we would both stop having Braxton hicks at the same time. It was pretty funny.

  7. Bevik1971 28/05/2019 at 4:18 pm

    I do remember having some Braxton Hicks but nothing major and definitely didn’t make me think they may have been labour pains. I ended up going into spontaneous labour 2 weeks early and my waters broke first that’s how I knew it was the real deal!! 🙂

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